Monday, May 14, 2012

Submitting and Submission-What the Bible Says. Part 1

At times, words like submit and submission leave a foul taste in the mouth of their speaker. Other times, these words are used as verbal weapons, to subdue and restrict individuals. I started to wonder what exactly the Bible had to say about these words: Who are we to submit to? What does it mean to submit?

First of all, what do the words submit and submission mean? According to the wise, submit and submission are defined as follows:
    -to give over or yield to the power or authority of another
     *The word "submit" appears in the NIV Bible 29 times and I am focusing on 26 of those verses. (I dubbed Genesis 49:15, Psalm 68:31, and Lamentations 5:6 to be of little relevance to this discussion)
    -an act or instance of submitting.
    *The word "submission" appears in the NIV Bible 7 times and I am focusing on those verses. 

So who do we submit to? 

The short answer is the Lord, spouses, holy people, authority, elders, parents, and each other. I don't expect you to take my word for it, but I really don't want to subject anyone to an overly long reading in one setting, so I'm breaking up the topics over the course of several blogs for your convenience. 

   *The Lord
        -God asks us to submit to Him and return to Him; if we don't, He will leave us to our own devices. If we do submit, He will guide us in life. We are urged to submit to God's parenting; if our minds are ruled by our world nature, we won't submit to God.
        -2nd Chronicles 30:7-9 and Job 22:20-22 and Psalm 81:10-12 and Proverbs 3:5-7 and Hebrews 12:7-13 and Romans 8:6-8         

    *Spouses (Husbands)
           -Spouses are to submit to each other and wives are to submit to husbands, like we submit to the Lord. Church submits to Christ, so wife should submit to husband. Husbands are to love their wives. Wives submit to spouse, like Jesus submitted to suffering/death. Husbands, be considerate to wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner
           -Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1 Peter 3:1-7 and Colossians 3:18-25.
                ~Weaker partner-cue the teeth grinding. It's true that my husband is stronger than me, but that doesn't mean that I like to be reminded of it. There are mutual directions here: I am to submit to my husband, who is to love me like Christ loves the church)
           -Submit to authority, but know God’s law trumps man's law. It’s a matter of conscience/principle to obey the law. Submit to authorities for God. Have confidence & submit to leaders’ authority and don’t make their jobs suck. Acts 23:5 and Exodus 22:28 urge believers to not speak evil about the ruler of your people. James 3:9-12 points out that praising God and cursing/complaining with the same mouth is contradictory.
           -Romans 13: 4-6 and 1 Peter 2:12-25 and Hebrews 13:17 

The first one isn't so hard to realize the truth in it; after all, God is the Creator of all things, all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfect. It's not so bad trusting the judgment of such a being. Some women are used to hearing "wives, submit to your husbands," but that's not all the Bible has to say about marital submitting: spouses are to submit to *each other*. That is to say, there is to be a mutual submission going on.  Submitting to authorities is much harder, especially to many Christians in the U.S. But God's word tells believers we are not to speak evil of the rulers of our peoples, we are to submit to their authority, and we are to not make their jobs utterly miserable. Multiple passages in the New Testament repeatedly emphasize that if we love God, we will obey His commands and when the rubber meets the road, this is one of God's commands.

Stay tuned for part 2!

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